Sunday, August 26, 2012

Summer Leftovers

Ok, speed round.  No in-depth analysis, just a paragraph or two on the movies I saw in the month of August.

The Bourne Legacy

Despite what the title says, Jason Bourne is not the star of this film - instead it's another Treadstone super-soldier, Aaron Cross, played by Hawkeye himself, Jeremy Renner.  The story takes place alongside The Bourne Ultimatum, but Legacy only sloppily (and desperately) clings onto the other series, resorting to inserting pictures of Matt Damon randomly throughout and inter-cutting to various shots from the third Bourne film for no real theatrical reason.

The plot is kind of a mess as it tries to allude the audience as to what you're actually watching at first, but once you figure out it's about Renner needing his super-duper drugs, it becomes a purely procedural action movie.  Nearly nothing interesting is developed regarding his need for pills, and Cross never shows any real symptoms of withdrawal (so we don't see the stakes on screen).  Edward Norton and Rachel Weiss are competent but have nothing to work with (though Norton plays a big role in the plot as the "villain," there's never even a confrontation between him and Renner by the end).  I did like some of the [far too few] action beats, but although it is 'technically' well made, it's very "bleh" and doesn't at all deserve the epic Moby music cue at the end.

Rating: C


From Laika studios who brought us Coraline, this stop-motion animated film similarly employs the "horror for kids" idea.  I loved this flick, especially being a big horror fan.  The synth-heavy score could have been ripped right out of a John Carpenter movie, and the designs are of course detailed, rich, and beautiful to look at.  There was a great deal more humor in this film than I remember being in Coraline, and some of the jokes are pretty adult. All in all, a great little movie that's maybe a step below Coraline, but in my honest opinion a better homage to horror movies than even Cabin in the Woods.

Rating: A-

The Expendables 2

If the first Expendables was a pile of shit, this was a pile of shit with rainbow sprinkles on top.  Although the action this time around was better, and there were some funny moments (both intentional and unintentional), there's no denying that by definition this is a bad movie.  The script is as dumb as ever and the acting is atrocious, but I'm guessing that can only be expected.  If you want a big, loud action flick with a bunch of has-beens, look no further.

As a side note, I must say the Best Supporting Actress Oscar should clearly be awarded to Nan Yu, who delivers her lines so well it would make Meryl Streep weep with envy.

Rating: D+

Premium Rush

JGL stars as a New York City biker/delivery guy who gets a parcel in his possession that leads him down a road of speeding, swerving, and rushing away from the fuzz, particularly a corrupt officer with a debt to pay and some anger issues (played gloriously by Michael Shannon).  This flick felt more like a 90's action movie than a contemporary CGI-fest, which was a welcome breath of fresh air.  I also love the very "Jackie Brown" way of how it told the story through different perspectives.  I do wish that this unique idea of a chase movie using bikes utilized its creative concept more (such as JGL's "Spider-sense" that previews various paths, some of which result in rag-doll road wreckage).  I also think once you look past the narrative structure, the actual plot was pretty simple and weak (especially the "love story").  But both Michael Shannon and the grounded thrills of the bike chases are enough to recommend the film.

Rating: B-

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